DALIT CHRISTIAN DEMANDS

29/11/2010

Dalit Christians belong to the ancient indigenous people of the land of India and for the past fifty nine years they were struggling for their basic right to live as human beings.Dalit Christians are fighting for their legitimate rights and privileges provided for the Dalits by the Constitution of India.
The Constitution of India has provided the Dalits with compensatory discrimination or affirmative action, but since 1950 the Government of India has deprived Christian Dalits of such rights.
The majority of Dalit Christians are
Economically poor,
Educationally backward,
Politically powerless   and
Socially outcaste.
For this reason the Dalit Christians demand that the Indian Government restore their legitimate rights and cease to discriminate against them on grounds of religion.
Commissions
Elayaperumal Commission (1969): Report of the Elayaperumal Commission in Para 32 says “The Committee found during tours that all Scheduled Castes who got themselves converted to religions other than Hinduism should be given all concessions which are available to Scheduled Castes. This is because the Committee found during tours that they suffer from the same disabilities which the Scheduled Castes suffer.”
Mandal Commission (1980): The Mandal Commission in 1980 supported that Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity be treated as Scheduled Caste as their conversion did not change the conditions of socially, economically and educationally.
Misra Commission (2004): Justice Misra, a former chief justice of India, has accepted the demand raised by Dalit Christians for 59 years urging the Government not to discriminate against them on grounds of their religion, but to once again extend to them the political, economic and development privileges accorded to all Dalits by the Constitution of India when it was signed into law on 26th January 1950. These rights were taken away brutally by the Presidential Order of 1950 which strengthened the rightwing fundamentalist religious lobby and which continues to constitute a slur on the Secular foundations of the Indian Nation. The commission has accepted that caste transcends religion and caste discrimination is present in all religious communities.
Inclusion in the Scheduled Castes
Dalit Christians should be accorded the same reservation and welfare benefits that are granted to the Scheduled Castes professing the Hindu, Sikh, and Neo-Buddhist religions under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 as, amended in 1956 and 1990. The Dalit Christians should be given the Scheduled Caste status and privileges so that they can enjoy the same political rights and socio-economic benefits as all other Scheduled Castes.
Definition of the Scheduled Caste
The expression ‘Scheduled Castes’ was used for those people who were kept outside the fourfold Varna (caste) system, and were called Avarnas (casteless). They were called by different names such as: Chandalas, Panchamas or Untouchables.  The term “Scheduled Caste” was used by the British Government to designate all castes and classes previously covered under the term “Depressed Classes”. Officially this word was embodied in Section 305 of the Government of India Act, 1935, Later the expression was included in the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936.
The Indian Constitution, Article 366
“Scheduled Caste”   means such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under article 341 to be Scheduled Castes for the purposes of this Constitution.
The Indian Constitution, on the basis of its Article 341 (1) only empowers the President of India to specify the castes, races or tribes or parts or groups within castes that can be deemed to be Scheduled Castes.  It is then the role of Parliament to make law concerning the groups thus designated.
Article 341, Scheduled Castes
The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.
In 1950, while exercising the powers conferred on him in Article 341 (1), the President of India promulgated an order known as The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. This Order of 1950 continued to use the same list used in the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1936.  The third paragraph of the 1950 Order reads:-
Notwithstanding anything contained in paragraph 2, No person who professes a religion different from Hindu shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.
This third Paragraph was amended in 1956 and in 1990 in favor of Sikh and Buddhist Dalits.
Amendment of 1956 in favor of ‘Dalit SIKHS’
Following agitation by Master Tara Singh, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Act, providing for inclusion of Dalit Sikhs in the list of the Scheduled Castes, was passed in 1956. It said:-
“Notwithstanding anything contained in Para 2, No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu or Sikh religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.”
Amendment of 1956 in favor of ‘Dalit Buddhists ‘
In May 1990, to commemerate the centenary of the birth of Dr. Ambedkar, Prime Minister V.P.Singh brought Dalits who converted to Buddhism into the list of Scheduled Castes. He made representations to Parliament that this change of religion, from Hindu to Buddhist, had not altered their social, economic or educational conditions.  The same should be acknowledged in the case of Dalits who become Christians.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in Para 2, No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or the Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.”
Justification
The allegation not to give Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians on the ground that Christianity does not have caste, they why Scheduled Caste status given to those Scheduled Caste origins to Sikhism and Buddhism as both the religions does not have caste.
On the other hand, if reservation for only those religions that practices castes then Dalit Christians also deserve it because they suffer caste stigma among Indian society.
Dalit Christians suffer caste oppressed before and after their conversion.They suffer Religious persecution from religious fanatics and constitutional denial of their statutory from Presidential SC/ST order 1950.
Dalit Christians seeking to be included in Scheduled Caste status is the constitution, birth and fundamental rights.
Conclusion
Today Dalit Christians are asking only for their fundamental rights.Dalit Christians belong to the same caste and undergo the same age-old suffering and oppression as other Dalits.Dalit Christians live under the same system of oppression, deprived of   justice and human dignity.
The economic condition of Dalit converts is in no way different from that of their counterparts – the Dalits who are not converts.Dalit Christians suffer from a high incidence of atrocities and economic and social disabilities owing to the government’s reluctance to modify its discriminatory policy on   reservation.
Christians feel that this religion-based discrimination is in violation of Article 15 (1) and contravenes the provisions of Article 15 (4) of the Constitution of India. Constitutional principles prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
At stake is the fate of 19 million Dalit Christians, who form 70% of the Indian Christians.  In the whole country, Indian Christians total 25 million.  They are not asking for any expansion of the Scheduled Caste list or any increase in the reservation quota. They only want to be included in the present list.  This can be done by introducing a new bill in Parliament.
Reference
1. www.dalitchristians.com/Html/demands.htm
2. M. Madhu Chandra – 16 July, 2007 – Countercurrents.org
3. Rangnath Commission Report tabled in Parliament, ummid.com & Agencies
4.www.ummid.com/news/December/19.12.2009/christian_groups_demand_im        plementation_misra_report.htm
Joseph.P
Executive Director
THACRA SOCIAL SERVICE ORGANISATION
Chennai – Tamil Nadu – South India

 Courtesy: http://eparinay.com/blog/2010/08/03/dalit-christian-demands/

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Fence blocks road to Dalit colony in Krishnagiri

16/10/2010

R. ARIVANANTHAM

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CPI(M) MLA K. Mahendran at the fence erected by locals blocking the road to a Dalit Colony at Ittikkal Agaram , near Krishnagiri, on Thursday. CPI(M) district secretary D. Ravindran is in the picture.

CPI(M) MLA K. Mahendran at the fence erected by locals blocking the road to a Dalit Colony at Ittikkal Agaram , near Krishnagiri, on Thursday. CPI(M) district secretary D. Ravindran is in the picture.

An approach road to a Dalit colony in Ittikkal Agaram village, 15 km from Krishnagiri, has been blocked with a barbed wire fence by a section of people.

According to the people in the colony, the fence was erected by the locals with the support of the ‘Ooor Goundar’ (Village Leader).

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is planning to engage in direct action to remove the fence, party MLA S. K. Mahendran, announced on Thursday. After visiting the colony, Mr. Mahendran told The Hindu that if the authorities failed to remove the fence within a week, the party cadres will tear it down and clear the way for the Dalits, who, he said, faced oppression in many ways at the hands of the local caste Hindus.

The practice of village leader controlling things in the district was a matter of shame, he said. Only elected bodies should have control over common issues . The district administration and the police should bring an end to this system of extra-judicial authority, he said.

He also said caste Hindus were indulging in violence against the Dalits by not allowing them to do farming on the land allotted to them by the district administration.

Mr. Mahendran along with D. Ravindran, District Secretary of the CPI (M), met Revenue Divisional Officer A. Noor Mohamed and urged him to remove the fence.

The RDO promised to take appropriate action after verifying the documents and survey the land within two days.


  • CPI (M) plans to remove fence if no action is taken
  • Allegation of caste Hindus indulging in violence
  • http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article831618.ece


    Language, Violence, and the State: Writing Tamil Dalits

    02/10/2010

    With the Dalit movement in Maharastra having grown stagnant, and Uttar Pradesh’s Dalit-led Bahujan Samaj Party possibly reaching the limits of its potential development, the vital forefront of Dalit politics has now shifted to Tamil Nadu. So writes Gail Omvedt in her introduction to Thol. Thirumavalan’s Talisman.1 Whether the recent upsurge of intellectual and political energy among Tamil Dalits shall indeed prove a model for Dalits elsewhere in India—or whether, on the contrary, there are not still more promising movements already afoot in the Dalit hamlets and urban slums of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, or other places yet unknown—is impossible to say. What is a good bit more certain, however, is that for the ferment in Tamil Nadu to succeed it must be translatable. This ‘translation’ cannot be limited simply to the translation of words. On the contrary, its translation must involve not only the translation of one language into another, but also of words into deeds at the national level—into policies that protect Dalits from violent atrocities not merely under law but also in fact, into substantive and not merely formal democracy, or into genuine land reform, to name but a few demands of Tamil Dalits. But before a demand can be implemented, or the argument found persuasive, it must not only be spoken but also heard. It must be taken up, it must be transcribed, translated, repeated, and repeatedly tested in political and intellectual contests. The demand that is spoken but once, or in a single place, fades on the wind. Similarly, when a laborer is beaten to death, or a Dalit hamlet [i] burnt to the ground, it only becomes an ‘atrocity’ [vakoumai] when it is recorded as such, and subjected thereby to universal standards of justice. Insofar as these events remain within an entirely local context, the murderous beating remains a ‘just punishment’ [tarma ai], and the burning of Dalit huts, a restoration of the village order [ūr āci].

    • 2  On police violence, see especially chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 24, 30 and 35 ‘Terror in Uniform,’(…)

    4Dalits in Dravidian Land is, as its subtitle tells us, a collection of fifty-two ‘reports on anti-dalit violence’ by investigative journalist S. Viswanathan, originally published in the fortnightly newsmagazine Frontline over the ten-year period from 1995 to 2004. The majority of the reports describe acts of physical violence, which in Tamil Nadu have all too often been perpetrated upon Dalits by the authorized agents of the state—primarily the police—in addition to the usual dominant (BC) caste groups.2 Indeed, given the caste composition of Tamil Nadu’s police force, and its active support of the castes that dominate among its ranks (i.e. BCs) against Dalits, the distinction between caste- and state sponsored-violence against Dalits is of uncertain theoretical relevance.

    …………@ http://samaj.revues.org/index2952.html

    the police… have become mercenaries of caste Hindus. In Tamil Nadu, such a state of affairs became obvious after the DMK came to power in 1967… [W]hen antidalit violence was unleashed in Kilvenmani (1968),12Villupuram (1978), Kodiyankulam (1995),13 Melavalavu (1997),14Gundupatti (1998)15 and Thamiraparani (1999),16 the police abetted the crimes as perpetrators. Both the AIADMK and DMK have been united in the unleashing of violence on dalits. (DDL: xxvi)

    Nathaniel Roberts

    Bibliographical reference
    – Viswanathan, S. (2005) Dalits in Dravidian Land: Frontline Reports on Anti-Dalit Violence in Tamil Nadu, Forward by N. Ram, Introduction by Ravikumar, Chennai: Navayana, 318 pages + xxxviii [cited as DLL]

    – Thirumaavalavan, Thol. (2003) Talisman: Extreme Emotions of Dalit Liberation, Translated from the Tamil by Meena Kandasamy, Introduction by Gail Omvedt, Kolkata: Samya, 185 pages + xxviii [cited as TAL]

    – Thirumaavalavan, Thol. (2004) Uproot Hindutva: The Fiery Voice of the Liberation Panthers, Translated from the Tamil by Meena Kandasamy, Forward by Ram Puniyani, Kolkata: Samya, 248 pages + xxvi [cited to as UH]

    – Ravikumar (2009) Venomous Touch: Notes on Caste, Culture and Politics, Translated from the Tamil by R. Azhagarasan, Forward by Susie Tharu, Kolkata: Samya, 298 pages + xxii [cited as VT]